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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:27 am 
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This is an image of a Green Man in Winchester Cathedral. It is one of many.

Image

The cathedral at Winchester is notable for many things, particularly its architecture, and for having the longest nave of any Gothic cathedral in Europe. It is the burial place of St Swithun. Several Kings of Wessex, and of England before the Norman invasion are interred here, including Cynegils, King of Wessex from 611 to 643 and England's first Christian monarch, and Cnut (aka Canute), King of England from 1016 to 1035. Queen Emma of Normandy, wife of Ethelred the Unready, and later of Cnut, was buried here in 1052. The royal treasury was kept here, back when this was the capital of England. William II had his funeral here in 1100; Richard the Lionheart had his second coronation here in 1194; and in 1554 Mary I married Philip II of Spain here. Jane Austen, one of our most celebrated novelists, was buried in the Cathedral in 1817. It is a building absolutely steeped in history, some of it very unhappy, having been wrecked twice, first during the Protestant Reformation, and again by Cromwell's troops during the English Civil War.

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However, aside from all its better known architectural and historic treasures, the Cathedral contains many carvings of Green Men. These carvings, which appear in a great many Medieval buildings, and which are sometimes referred to as foliate heads, are seen as representing re-birth and resurrection, and are an echo of our pagan past. Their true meaning, however, remains something of a mystery.

Just how many of these carvings exist in Winchester Cathedral was something of which I was unaware, until I attended a recent Green Man tour. In fact, there are so many of them, the Cathedral custodians are not even sure of the exact number - some are ambiguous in their design, some are hard to see, high up in the vaulted ceiling of the nave - and they are often finding new ones. But it is estimated that the Cathedral contains between sixty and seventy Green Men (and Women).

This picture of the nave gives some idea of the building's vast scale, and how difficult some of the higher carvings can be to spot.

Image

Fortunately, I took a camera with a very long zoom, otherwise many of the heads would have been quite indistinct, even when pointed out by our guide. The sheer number of them was quite remarkable, ranging from the large and dramatic one at the top of this post, to this little fellow, perched above the entrance to one of the chantry chapels.

Image

I shall add some further images, in a series of separate posts.


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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:32 am 
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According to Wikipedia, there are three main types of Green Man.

Quote:
The Green Man appears in many forms, with the three most common types categorized as:

the Foliate Head - completely covered in green leaves
the Disgorging Head - spews vegetation from its mouth
the Bloodsucker Head - sprouts vegetation from all facial orifices.


Our guide, however, categorised the three types slightly differently.

-Heads disgorging foliage from their mouths
-Heads adorned with foliage, such as those with leaf hair
-Heads that appear to be peeping out from behind or within foliage

We saw all kinds.

This one is definitely in the disgorging category.

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As is this one.

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On this disgorging head, hands are reaching around from behind it and pulling the mouth open. (Edit to Add: In fact, that's the tongue hanging out, rather than foliage, but still a striking image)

Image


Last edited by richard.webster on 06 Sep 2012 12:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:34 am 
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Heads Adorned with Foliage

These heads have the foliage sprouting from them, or perhaps in some cases they are wearing it.

Image

Image

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:39 am 
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Timber Heads

Winchester Cathedral contains some beautiful timber choir stalls from the Medieval period, where there are also several Green Men to be found and, as we shall see, a rare Green Woman as well.

This is the Cathedral's most famous Green Man.

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This is another one at the end of a stall.

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These little seats were designed for the monks to lean against, so they could rest whilst giving the impression of standing. There are two Green Man heads here, to the left and to the right.

Image

And this is a very rare example of a Green Woman.

Image


Last edited by richard.webster on 06 Sep 2012 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:44 am 
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Can I just make the observation that none of them are actually green.

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:48 am 
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rain wrote:
Can I just make the observation that none of them are actually green.


Very true. In fact, the term "Green Men" doesn't make an appearance until the 1930s, so they wouldn't have been known as such at the time they were put in the Cathedral, more likely as foliate heads.


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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:51 am 
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richard.webster wrote:
rain wrote:
Can I just make the observation that none of them are actually green.


Very true. In fact, the term "Green Men" doesn't make an appearance until the 1930s, so they wouldn't have been known as such at the time they were put in the Cathedral, more likely as foliate heads.


You're a gem, are you funning me about the "foliate head" or was that really the term?

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:52 am 
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More Modern Heads

Although most Green Men date from the medieval period - the 13th and 14th centuries - there are also some later examples. In the nave, there is a monument to a Mayor of Winchester called Edward Cole, who died in 1617.

Image

The monument is being held up by what appear to be three Green Men.

Image

Image

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And it is also adorned with several others.

Image


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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:53 am 
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rain wrote:
richard.webster wrote:
rain wrote:
Can I just make the observation that none of them are actually green.


Very true. In fact, the term "Green Men" doesn't make an appearance until the 1930s, so they wouldn't have been known as such at the time they were put in the Cathedral, more likely as foliate heads.


You're a gem, are you funning me about the "foliate head" or was that really the term?


No, it's one of the terms. But we don't really know what people called them, back when they were being carved.


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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 11:56 am 
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And finally ... I left the best until last. I think this is a stunning piece of stone carving, and probably an example of the third category of Green Man that our guide referred to - heads that appear to be peering out from within the foliage. Whether it is or not, it's been very well made.

Image

All in all, it was a really interesting tour, and I'm looking forward to going back and trying to spot some more of these enigmatic carvings. It's another intriguing aspect of our beautiful Cathedral.

Image


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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 12:12 pm 
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richard.webster wrote:
No, it's one of the terms. But we don't really know what people called them, back when they were being carved.


ohh, strange history.

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 12:13 pm 
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richard.webster wrote:
And finally ... I left the best until last. I think this is a stunning piece of stone carving, and probably an example of the third category of Green Man that our guide referred to - heads that appear to be peering out from within the foliage. Whether it is or not, it's been very well made.

Image

All in all, it was a really interesting tour, and I'm looking forward to going back and trying to spot some more of these enigmatic carvings. It's another intriguing aspect of our beautiful Cathedral.

Image


Snow always makes things look pretty.

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 12:15 pm 
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rain wrote:
Snow always makes things look pretty.


Yes, it does, not that the Cathedral needs it, but I've liked that picture ever since I took it, and wanted a reason to show it.

That wasn't from yesterday, btw ... even though we have had a pretty horrendous summer for weather!


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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 12:37 pm 
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Is it foliage or is it smoke from foliage? Seems to me this fella just took a huge "hit" and is ready to meet his god in ecstasy.....look at the eyes.....


Image


While there is no doubt, that this fella is the original model for Giorgio's hair (the Ancient Aliens dude)

Image

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 12:51 pm 
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Is that a shell in the middle of 'his' forehead? If it is, that may not be a man....not that there are tales of women warriors in Britain.....

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 12:55 pm 
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Serendipity wrote:
Image

Is that a shell in the middle of 'his' forehead? If it is, that may not be a man....not that there are tales of women warriors in Britain.....


Boudica, but I think the Green man is a metaphor, a symbol so it could be a reference to one of the pilgrimages.

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 1:05 pm 
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the 'green man' is not a metaphor to a shaman....some of which were female....

AND, hemp and cannabis went along with the society of the warriors....the hemp was used for many things....including rituals....to purify weapons, etc....

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 3:01 pm 
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Serendipity wrote:
Image

Is that a shell in the middle of 'his' forehead? If it is, that may not be a man....not that there are tales of women warriors in Britain.....


It does look like a shell, doesn't it? I understand that it's quite rare to see an armed Green Man, and this one is bearing both a sword and a shield.

The timber carvings in the choir stall date from the early 1300s, and are believed to have been made by a master carpenter from Norfolk, called William of Lyngwode.


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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 3:37 pm 
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A master carver in the 1300's....I wonder who the majority of his customers were?

I doubt very seriously if there was enough of this type of construction going on back then to keep him busy.

I would assume that a master carver of that time did a great deal of work for the warrior class.... carving symbols for shields, sword hilts to later be gilded.....a bunch of stuff. Given the time period, the carver quite possibly could have had a great deal of pagan customers....he may have even been one himself.....the carvings being passed down from one generation to the next.

So, he is contacted to do this job for a big new church and decides to carve those things he has had the most experience doing.....his best work.

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 4:07 pm 
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Norfolk is on the water, so the master carver probably was used for ship building too....and what a superstitious bunch those sailors are!

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PostPosted: 06 Sep 2012 10:39 pm 
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richard.webster wrote:
Serendipity wrote:
Image

Is that a shell in the middle of 'his' forehead? If it is, that may not be a man....not that there are tales of women warriors in Britain.....


It does look like a shell, doesn't it? I understand that it's quite rare to see an armed Green Man, and this one is bearing both a sword and a shield.

The timber carvings in the choir stall date from the early 1300s, and are believed to have been made by a master carpenter from Norfolk, called William of Lyngwode.


I love timber and the craftmanship but after the run in from the termites I've had rethink my love of timber.
I have a few pages that talk in a code book of mine that talks a little bit about the Journeymen and their crafts.
I had never known previously that that is what the Hare meant - it was the craftmen apprentices that hopped from place to place learning their craft.

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PostPosted: 07 Sep 2012 7:38 am 
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rain wrote:
I have a few pages that talk in a code book of mine that talks a little bit about the Journeymen and their crafts.
I had never known previously that that is what the Hare meant - it was the craftmen apprentices that hopped from place to place learning their craft.


I like hares very much, but I didn't know about that particular meaning.

The most I can find out about William of Lyngwode, from Norfolk, is that the Bishop of Norwich sent him to Winchester in 1308 to build stalls for the Cathedral, but the extent of his work is not known. There is on record, however, a letter from the Bishop of Winchester in 1309, presumably to his counterpart in Norwich, asking that William's time in Winchester be extended, until he "shall have finished the said work".
(Wooden Images: Misericords and Medieval England, Juanita Ballew & Charles A Curry)

The Bishop of Winchester at that time would have been Henry Woodlock. He presided over the coronation of King Edward II at Westminster Abbey in 1308.

Misericord is the proper name for the little seat or ledge I referred to further up, that monks used to like to rest against during prayers, also known as Mercy Seats. This is the one from our Cathedral with its two Green Men at either side.

Image

But looking through some of these images, you can see that this type of motif is quite a common adornment to these little seats.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=miseri ... 80&bih=907


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PostPosted: 07 Sep 2012 7:43 am 
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richard.webster wrote:

Image

But looking through some of these images, you can see that this type of motif is quite a common adornment to these little seats.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=miseri ... 80&bih=907


I have two similar figures in my garden! Hanging on either side of the tool shed entry. Not the same meaning of course...just saying they are common features...

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PostPosted: 07 Sep 2012 10:55 am 
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Shasta wrote:
I have two similar figures in my garden! Hanging on either side of the tool shed entry. Not the same meaning of course...just saying they are common features...


No more appropriate place than a garden, for something so associated with nature.

I just wanted to add a couple more, that seem a bit ambiguous to me, hence my having left them out of the earlier posts. I also didn't fully catch these parts of the guide's narration, as I was dilly-dallying about taking photos further back. But this one was pointed out as a disgorging head, which it may be, but it could just as easily be a head mounted on foliage. The detail in the face is very well realised, particularly the mouth and the teeth, and the flared nostrils.

Image

And this one I don't get at all, although it was definitely pointed out to us. I keep looking at it and trying to figure it out. It could be the foliage itself is the head, and those are eyes just above the round disc that looks a bit like breathing apparatus; or else it could be that the eyes are peering out from within the foliage. I guess this kind of ambiguity goes to show why the Cathedral can only estimate at the number of Green Men carved in the building, rather than being able to give a definitive total.

Image


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PostPosted: 07 Sep 2012 4:37 pm 
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richard.webster wrote:
Shasta wrote:
I have two similar figures in my garden! Hanging on either side of the tool shed entry. Not the same meaning of course...just saying they are common features...


No more appropriate place than a garden, for something so associated with nature.

I just wanted to add a couple more, that seem a bit ambiguous to me, hence my having left them out of the earlier posts. I also didn't fully catch these parts of the guide's narration, as I was dilly-dallying about taking photos further back. But this one was pointed out as a disgorging head, which it may be, but it could just as easily be a head mounted on foliage. The detail in the face is very well realised, particularly the mouth and the teeth, and the flared nostrils.

Image

And this one I don't get at all, although it was definitely pointed out to us. I keep looking at it and trying to figure it out. It could be the foliage itself is the head, and those are eyes just above the round disc that looks a bit like breathing apparatus; or else it could be that the eyes are peering out from within the foliage. I guess this kind of ambiguity goes to show why the Cathedral can only estimate at the number of Green Men carved in the building, rather than being able to give a definitive total.

Image


The bottom part looks like it could be heraldic: a cross medallion with four oak leaves?

Wonderful photos, by the way.

FS

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